Transforming or evolving your troop in a pure BLT culture is a multi-year/phased effort that takes persistence and continuous support from all levels of the troop. Here is a very high level summary of how to plan and execute.
Define BLT – If you ask ten people in your troop what their vision of BLT is, you will get ten different answers. Therefore, go around the troop, ask people their vision and take notes on what they say. Once you have talked to scouts, adult leaders and parents, have the Core Leadership Team review your findings and come up with a definition or vision that includes a little bit of everyone’s thinking.
Gain Buy In – Once the plan is drafted, socialize it to the adult leaders, parents and scouts. Make changes as you gain input. If possible, answer the tough questions up front to mitigate skepticism. One key point while socializing is to point out where people’s ideas were put into the plan. For myself, I make it a point to be able to show every person where their idea or feedback was used to make the plan. With everyone’s ideas being a part of the plan, you are creating a culture of ownership. Everyone owns the plan. As SM, I postured myself as the “facilitator.” I listened to everyone, worked with a the Core Leadership Team to formulate a plan and then had the privilege to be the facilitator.
Roll Out – Roll out the plan in phases. Initially focus on the SPL and Senior Patrol. Use their influence as the leaders and social status to make an impression on the other scouts with their leadership ways. After a few months, the SPL and his leadership team should be stable and you can shift your focus to the patrol leadership and their advisors. During the rollout, as SM, it is important to allow the scouts the opportunity to lead. One example would be our troop meetings. Previously, the adult leaders would be up front at the troop meetings. As SM, I would be in the very back of the room with the parents. The SPL and his leadership team were the guys in front of the troop. From meeting opening to closing, they were front and center, running the show. At times, adults would want to jump in and lead. I would catch the attention of the adult and ask them to not jump in, let the scouts lead. Initially there was great peer pressure and expectations for me as SM to step up and run the troop. When this did not happen, there was some confusion. I would explain many times over that by “NOT” stepping up to run the troop, this provided an opportunity for the scouts/boys to step up and define for themselves, how much they wanted to take on for leadership.
Plan, Plan, Plan – Having BLT as your culture, your troop’s ability to plan and coordinate will be tested. The initial two to three months along with its outings may have a high level of the Choas Factor due to lack of planning. What is meant by this is that for BLT, the leadership is done at the scout’s ability to lead. For the scouts to be successful, they need more time to prepare and coordinate. The SPL and his team have to relay the objectives to the patrol leadership. The scout leadership or PLC, as a whole, has to understand it is their responsibility to be prepared and support what goes on during the meetings and events. One of the hardest lessons learned for the scouts when they initially take on leadership is to understand the importance and challenges of good planning. To successfully support the scouts, you have to provide them opportunities to plan as well as incorporate core planning processes into the operations of the troop. Under Before You Start we indicated a troop’s transformation takes about three years. At the second year point is when the planning becomes the normal way of doing business. Our first senior patrol figured out that it takes four troop meetings for the scouts to adequately plan and lead an outing for a troop with six patrols and 70 scouts. We call this our Outing Planning.